As Albert Rider’s family continues living their lives without him there to be a husband, father and grandfather, one of three defendants charged in his homicide appeared in court for arraignment Wednesday and entered a not guilty plea.
Defendant James Isaac South, 35, appeared before Pottawatomie County District Judge John Canavan, where he entered the formal plea.
South is one of three charged in the shooting death of Rider, 53, of Norman. Rider, who was a 1977 Bethel High School graduate, worked as an electrician and enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.
The investigation began the morning of Oct. 8 after Rider, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, crashed his vehicle into a pipe fence and gate at a Pottawatomie County residence on New Hope Road. He later died from his wounds.
South and two other Oklahoma City residents were arrested and charged in the homicide. South, along with Bradley Austin Keith, 28, were initially charged with murder in the first degree, while Michael Preston Choate, 24, was charged with second-degree murder in the case, although his case is now amended to a first-degree murder count.
On the day of Rider’s death, he crashed his vehicle into a homeowner’s fence and told the homeowner that his house, reportedly about 3.5 miles away from that scene, had been robbed and he had been shot. Rider was transported to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he died from his wounds.
Pottawatomie County deputies, along with Cleveland County deputies, district attorney investigators and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, probed the case to piece together what had happened. They knew Rider’s home in rural Norman was burglarized, but believed Rider was shot in a rural roadway not too far from where he crashed his van.
Investigators determined Rider was aware of the home burglary and was likely searching for those responsible when he had a confrontation that resulted in him being shot in Pottawatomie County.
Within 24 hours of the shooting, investigators were able to identify and arrest the three suspects in the case with help of a cell phone that had a bloody fingerprint. That cell phone, listed on a court affidavit as belonging to Keith, was found at the reported site of the confrontation in Pottawatomie County.
The firearm allegedly used in the homicide, which had been stolen from Rider’s home, also was found not too far from the alleged scene of the scuffle, reports show.
South’s next court date is now set June 25.
Keith’s next court date is May 22 and Choate’s next court date is scheduled May 29.
Watch for updates.
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